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Oregon Officials Authorizing Wolf Killing, Saying Non-Lethal Efforts Failed

State wildlife officials have authorized the killing of two wolves from a pack in Eastern Oregon after confirming four attacks on livestock.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said non-lethal deterrents failed to prevent the Meacham Wolf Pack from attacking cattle and sheep on private land in Umatilla County.

It is the third time since July that a Northwest wolf pack has been targeted for what officials call lethal control. This time, the state has also authorized an area rancher to kill wolves on private property. The two wolves could be killed either by the permitted rancher or by state wildlife officials.

According to the agency, the rancher had removed carcasses that attract wolves, turned out cattle to pasture on a new schedule meant to minimize conflict and employed a range rider five days per week.

The rancher had requested the entire pack’s elimination. Instead, the state will start with the removal of two wolves and monitor the situation. More will be killed if depredations continue. Officials also plan to stop killing wolves once grazing cattle have left the pasture where depredations have occurred.

“While it’s disheartening for some people to see ODFW killing wolves, our agency is called to manage wildlife in a manner consistent with other land uses, and to protect the social and economic interests of all Oregonians while it conserves gray wolves,” ODFW Director Curt Melcher said in a statement. “It’s important that we address and limit wolf-livestock problems while also ensuring a healthy wolf population. Lethal control is identified in the Oregon Wolf Plan as a needed tool we use when non-lethal measures alone are unsuccessful in resolving conflict.”

The incremental approach has been taken by both Oregon and Washington as an alternative to eliminating entire wolf packs.

Earlier in August, Oregon killed three wolves from a pack in Wallowa County. In late July, Washington killed two from a pack in the northeast corner of Stevens County.

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